Beyond rocks and hard places

Beyond rocks and hard places

Why is so hard to change?

Why do we find it so hard to break habit loops and change our behaviour? Anyone who has ever tried to eat more healthily, be more patient with colleagues, plan work tasks with greater care, exercise more, take better minutes at meetings, visit the dentist regularly- anyone who has ever tried to change an established pattern- knows just how hard it is to do.

Our old behaviour patterns and habits have a great hold on us. Going to the gym before work makes me feel great, but the old habit of coffee and croissant on a cold morning pulls me away from my new routine with a greater force! Old habits do indeed die hard: they enjoy the special privileges of cue and reward, which create a behaviour loop that becomes ingrained in our brain ‘autopilot’. What chance do we have to change in the face of such stubborn neurological conditioning? We can make it easier for ourselves by creating new cues to follow and by rewarding ourselves, but what really helps us to change is the power of belief. To think for example, that- ‘it can really work for me to exercise regularly’ – can help me believe that I will eventually get trimmer and fitter- until I actually do. There’s also the incredible power of friendship, social support and groups in carrying us forward as we practice believing in ourselves and in holding us in the shared belief that we can change and achieve what we set out to do. Change is very hard to do- but the power of self-belief and the support of others can help us transform our lives.